What Is Retinal Scanning?

Security verifications have become a standard procedure to protect systems from unauthorized access. One of the strongest methods ever developed is the use of biometrics. Retinal scanning is one of the most accurate forms of biometric identification. In this article, we’ll examine what retinal scanning is, how it works, and its uses.

What is retinal scanning?

Retinal scanning is a biometric verification method that utilizes a person’s retina, specifically its unique patterns, to confirm one’s identity. This method is used for different purposes, but it is mainly used for security, access control, and financial transactions.

How does retinal scanning work?

All forms of biometric scanning leverage a unique and distinguishable body part. Retinal scanning uses a scanner that focuses low-energy infrared light onto a person’s retina.

The retina, located at the back of the eye, is made up of light-sensitive cells and a network of blood vessels called capillaries. These capillaries absorb infrared light differently than the surrounding tissue, creating a unique pattern. The scanner captures and analyzes this intricate pattern of blood vessels for identification.

Where is retinal scanning used?

Since this method is highly regarded for accuracy and security, retinal scanning is used in many industries. Here are some applications where retinal scanning is employed:

  • High-security facilities

Organizations that need high security typically deploy retinal scanning to ensure authorized people are the only ones who can access the establishments. These high-security facilities may include military bases, government institutions, research labs, and facilities that require strict access control.

  • Financial institutions

Financial institutions like banks integrate retinal scanning in some of their establishments. One example is some financial institutions’ retinal scanning as an added security layer to their Automated Teller Machines (ATM). The verification method is now being used for money withdrawals and more.

  • Border control

Secure identification is crucial for border security, and retinal scans can be used to verify a person’s identity against passports or visas.

The pros and cons of retinal scanning

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of retinal scanning:


  • High-accuracy: Retinal scans provide a high level of accuracy since they are unique to each individual.
  • Security: The retina is located in a hard-to-access part of the body, making it difficult for bad actors to replicate it.
  • Quick and non-contact: Retinal scanning is non-intrusive, meaning it doesn’t require physical contact. The process involves a low-level infrared that scans the retina quite quickly.


  • Cost: Retinal scanning can be quite expensive to install and maintain. This is the reason why it is only primarily used in high-security facilities.
  • User acceptance: Some users are not comfortable with the idea of having their retinal scans stored, and some are concerned about the safety of having infrared beams shone on their eyes.
  • Limitations: Certain eye conditions, such as glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetes, can change the form of retinal capillaries. This may make retinal scanning unsuitable for these people.


Retinal scanning is a biometric method that uses the pattern of one’s retina’s capillaries to confirm identity. It is being used by large facilities that require a more robust and secure way to control access and prevent unauthorized entry. While there are some drawbacks to this verification method, retinal scanning still offers a highly reliable solution for high-security applications.

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